I was blessed growing up with two Dads. My Dad Gustavo who I’m a clone of, and my Dad Francisco, who raised me. He was my Mom’s second husband and I lived with him from the time I was 4 until I was 12. The funny thing is I began to call him Dad when I was 15. I guess I wanted to honor him and every time I called him Dad I was really telling him “I love you”.
Even funnier was the fact that if it happened that the three of us (my Dad, my Dad and me), were in the same place (let’s say on a birthday, graduation, Christmas…), and I said “Dad”, both my Dads would answer because there was no difference in my voice when I was referring to anyone of them. They were both my Daddies. Period.
My Dad Gustavo was never jealous. I think he was grateful because he knew I was in good hands. Friends since they were teenagers, they were friends when my Dad married my Mom, after the divorce, and so on. My Dad Gustavo used to refer to my Dad Francisco as one of the most intelligent people he ever met. In spite of the fact they were only one year apart in age, there was always a deep admiration in his words. And my Dad Francisco used to tell me that my Dad was the bravest person he ever met. That’s how lucky it was being the daughter of these two extraordinary men.
My Dad Francisco passed yesterday. And if I have to pick one sentence to describe him I would say he was a good man and that’s the way he would like to be remembered. In my late teens he became my best friend and confidant. Whatever I told him he was always supporting, cheering, trusting me, believing in me and making me feel important and beloved. He used to tell me that I was smart and beautiful, beautiful and smart, and that the order of factors does not alter the product. I guess the product was this self-confident woman I became.
I remember that as a teen I wasn’t particularly interested in school. When he asked me what would I like to do? I answered: “become a fashion designer”. Three days later he came home with a Sears sewing machine and an internship offer for me to work as a seamstress apprentice in the uniform factory of his best friend Manuel Gallego. Of course I wanted to be Carolina Herrera and not a seamstress, so I went back to school but I managed to get myself dressed with my own homemade designs for a good while.
I never, ever felt that I wasn’t his daughter because there was no difference in the way he treated and loved me and the way he treated and loved my sister Andreína and my brother Ernesto. He never wore a tie, but since he was a professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, when I graduated from there he gave me my diploma during the commencement ceremony wearing a cap and gown. He took me to the hospital the day my first son was born. He was always there for me, proud of my achievements, the proudest Dad ever.
Today my Dad will attend my Dad’s funeral, not only to pay tribute to his lifetime friend, but also to say farewell to my Dad on my behalf.
I love you Dad. Thank you for making me the luckiest daughter. You’ll be deeply missed but I’m sure you have your place in Heaven.